Remember that feeling as a child when you went grocery shopping with your mom? One moment, you were right on her heels as she turned the corner to switch aisles and all of a sudden, you looked up and she was gone. What was just a typical afternoon quickly turned into a moment of sheer panic and fear. The comfort and assurance of being with mom was gone and in its place was uncertainty and fear.
I’m sure most of us have experienced a moment like this at least once in our lives. Maybe you never got lost in a grocery store when you were little, but nearly everyone has gotten lost, either as a child, or as an adult. The fear and uncertainty that comes with being lost isn’t one that I’d ever willingly choose.
Earlier this week, I was teaching religion class and my class was looking at the image of Jesus as our Good Shepherd. I first had my class read through the Bible passage John 10:11-18 verse by verse.
The passage starts out in verse eleven with Jesus calling Himself the Good Shepherd:
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11
The first thing we did was talk about how a shepherd would likely lay in the gate area to protect the sheep. Even if a thief or wild animal came, the shepherd would be willing to lay down his life to protect them.
As we continued reading, we came to verse fourteen. Again, Jesus repeats His statement:
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:14-15
This time, we paused and talked about how sheep know the voice of their shepherd and follow that voice.
Now, because I have all these farmers in my class, I asked my students to describe sheep. They gave me words like lazy, dumb, followers, etc. My students quickly came to the realization on their own that we are being characterized as sheep: lazy, dumb, and easily lead astray.
Growing up, I would often read this passage, or others describing Jesus as the Good Shepherd, and I would have an idealistic, beautiful image painted in my head, but that is the furthest thing from reality.
As sheep, we often follow that one sheep who has wandered from the fold. We sometimes ignore our shepherd’s voice in pursuit of something that seems to be “better” or “more fun” and we quickly find ourselves on the edge of a cliff, surrounded by wolves.
Maybe you’ve experienced this recently. This feeling of being surrounded on all sides by the enemy can be overwhelming. It feels as if familiar and safe territory has quickly given way to become terrifying and unknown surroundings. Let me tell you, I can say that I’ve experienced this firsthand. This new school year has not been without its challenging days (or weeks). I’ve come home discouraged and frustrated too many times to count. The feeling of being exhausted and unsure of myself is a feeling I’ve become quite familiar with.
Recently, I’ve been listening to several Christian songs including Lauren Daigle’s Rescue. This song is written almost as a letter from our sweet Jesus to us. The one line that constantly sticks out to me each and every time that I listen to it is this:
I will send out an army to find you
In the middle of the darkest night
It's true, I will rescue you
This phrase has comforted me time and time again. It’s not a new sentiment. I know that my Jesus rescues me. I know that He is always pursuing me.
But there’s something about hearing it just as Jesus would speak it that has reminded me of this simple fact: our Jesus comes to rescue.
We have a Shepherd that leaves the 99 to come and rescue us, that one sheep who has wandered away. What a sweet reminder of our precious Jesus and His eternal love for us.
Relentlessly rescued by our Jesus,